These Real Estate And Construction Industry Insiders Will Advise President Trump On Reopening The Economy
President Donald Trump tapped more than a dozen real estate and construction industry leaders this week to counsel him on plans to reopen the national economy amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The White House announced the formation of Great American Economic Revival Industry Groups Tuesday night, made up of more than 200 people, largely corporate CEOs, who will give Trump advice on when and how the federal government should reopen the economy.
Two of the groups are dedicated to real estate and construction, made up of 20 men who lead development companies, contractors and trade unions and associations. There are also groups for retail, hospitality, banking, financial services, healthcare and technology.
Related Chairman Stephen Ross, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, Blackstone's Stephen Schwarzmann and Jon Gray, California-based Irvine Co. owner Donald Bren and Vornado Realty Trust CEO Steven Roth were all included. All eight men on the real estate council are based in either New York or Southern California.
“The health and wealth of America is the primary goal, and these groups will produce a more independent, self-sufficient, and resilient Nation,” the White House said in a release.
“The construction industry offers a good template for the business community. For the most part, construction projects have been able to continue,” Sandherr told Bisnow Wednesday. “We’ve already adopted safety practices and have been changing our procedures to limit exposure.”
On phone calls with the White House, Sandherr plans to describe what the construction industry has done to mitigate risk, including persistent education and enforcement.
“It’s an honor to be able to help,” he said.
The list also includes:
- Jim Callahan, International Union of Operating Engineers General President
- Sean McGarvey, North America’s Building Trades Union President
- Terry O’Sullivan, Laborers’ International Union of North America General President
- Jim Hoffa, International Brotherhood of Teamsters General President
- David Long, National Electrical Contractors Association CEO
- Brendan Bechtel, Bechtel CEO
- Carlos Hernandez, Fluor CEO
- Jerry Howard, National Association of Home Builders CEO
- Michael Bellaman, Associated Builders and Contractors President and CEO
- Richard Trumka, AFL-CIO CEO
- Geoff Palmer, G.H. Palmer Associates Owner
- David Simon, Simon Property Group CEO
- Rick Caruso, Caruso CEO
- Jon Gray, Blackstone CEO
- Barry Sternlicht, Starwood Capital Group CEO
- Steve Witkoff, Witkoff Group founder
Not on the list of high power executives is LeFrak Organization CEO Richard LeFrak, one of New York’s biggest landlords and a longtime friend of Trump's. He was set to lead the president’s infrastructure council in 2017 alongside Roth until Trump abandoned plans for the council.
During the first of four task force meetings Wednesday, leaders in banking and finance exhorted Trump to increase testing measures before reopening the economy, The Wall Street Journal reported. They also lauded the president's response to the pandemic. The group did not speak about when the country would reopen or when they would convene again, according to the WSJ.
The White House’s announcement of the team of experts comes after Trump’s adamant rebuke of governors’ plans to reopen their state economies independent of the federal government on Monday. Two interstate coalitions emerged on both U.S. coasts with freshly minted task forces that will examine how best to reopen the states’ economies.
Trump said he had the ultimate authority to decide when and how the states’ economies could reopen, but later seemed to temper his "absolute" position.
Internationally, other countries have begun opening their economies back up. Most recently, Germany's prime minister, Angela Merkel, announced Wednesday that the country will be reopening schools and some retail in May, given they have a new hygiene plan in place, Seeking Alpha reports. Germany has been touted as a success in keeping its national death toll from the virus down.